Saturday, 12 June 2010

"If my children come to harm I will hold the Catholic Bishops' Conference personally responsible" says mother of three

The Knights of Our Lady met in Braga, Portugal on the 4th - 6th June, to discuss the state of family life in the different European countries where the Order is represented. Fiorella Nash (pictured), mother of three young children, was invited to speak. Here is a shortened version of her address. She provides an eloquent, personal, summary of the previous government's sex education proposals and the pro-life's movement response to this.

The bold text is my emphasis - and I have taken the liberty of linking Fiorella's words to previous posts of mine etc.
I am going to focus on what, to me, is the greatest threat to family life in Britain today.
For many years now, governments have pursued a policy of imposing ever more explicit sex education on school children around Britain, including children at Catholic schools. Just to clarify, in case there is any doubt, sex education in this context does not mean – it has never meant – teaching children the facts of life, though it is sold as merely a way in which to give young people necessary, accurate information.

Sex education in Britain, as in many other countries, means the aggressive promotion of an ideology about human sexuality which is entirely at odds with Catholic teaching. This includes, to quote Ed Balls, our previous Education Minister, teaching that “homosexuality is healthy and normal”[*], teaching children how to access and use contraception on the understanding that contraceptive use is not just morally acceptable, but a positive and responsible step to take, and providing access to abortion for children under the age of sixteen without parental knowledge or consent.

Debates in Parliament about sex education tend to assume that there is a neutral position on sexuality, simply providing information, but there is no such thing. Simply talking about abortion, for example, as though it were morally neutral is in itself to take a pro-abortion position, in the same way that talking about the child porn industry as though producing and purchasing such material were simply a matter of personal choice would involve the inherent assumption there is nothing wrong with child pornography.

The dangerous clauses on sex education in the Children, Schools and Families bill as it was laughably called were finally deleted by the Government. This was a huge victory for families and for the pro-life movement. Tribute should be paid to the thousands of concerned people who lobbied the Government, including the 100 Catholic headteachers and governors, three bishops and over 300 Christian clergy who signed a letter published in the Telegraph opposing the bill.

I should say that during our campaign, we focused on ordinary clergy whom we found to be far more responsive and supportive than the bishops and we remain very grateful to the courageous witness of many priests.

However, we would be naïve if we thought that the threat to children and families will go away easily. A considerable proportion of schools in England, including Catholic schools, provide information on how to access contraception and abortion without parental knowledge or consent. This is happening with the co-operation of the Catholic authorities.

Sadly, more and more Catholic parents are telling us at the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children about terrible experiences in Catholic schools, both at secondary and primary school level. At my own prestigious Catholic school, founded and run by the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we were handed condoms and told to 'get comfortable with them' on the grounds that 'we all know you're not going to stay virgins until you're married.' Protests on the part of Catholic parents and teachers seeking to protect young people do not appear to be heard. I would very much encourage your organisation to join with us in our campaign.

Tragically, when the Children, Schools and Families bill was being debated in Parliament, the Catholic hierarchy of England and Wales not only failed to offer any opposition to a bill that would have promoted access to abortion and contraception in Catholic as well as non-Catholic schools, but Archbishop Vincent Nichols painted the Government's intentions in an entirely positive light. The Catholic Education Service helped in the drafting of the draft guidance on Sex and relationships education (which it welcomed as a positive step forward), which states:

"Information provided by schools should reflect the latest medical evidence available on topics such as: the efficacy of different contraceptive methods in preventing unplanned pregnancies and STIs; and pregnancy choices."

and

“Sex and relationships education should also increase pupils' knowledge and understanding at appropriate stages by
  • learning how to avoid unplanned pregnancy and STIs including
  • learning about contraception and infection avoidance
  • learning about pregnancy and the choices available learning about the range of local and national sexual health advice, contraception and support services available"
The collusion by an agency of the Bishops' Conference with the anti-life policies of the [then] Government was a wicked dereliction of duty that has left many Catholic parents feeling disillusioned and betrayed by the CES which was founded to protect and promote Catholic education. Incidentally, the Catholic Education Service, at the same time as stating that Catholics 'need to pull together' has appointed Greg Pope as its deputy director, a former MP with an appalling anti-life and anti-family voting record.

As a Catholic parent, I feel betrayed by the failure of the Catholic hierarchy to protect my children from this state-sponsored abuse. Parents are the primary educators of their children and any attempt to deny parents that fundamental right, upheld by Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights must be strenuously opposed. I can say without hesitation that if any of my children comes to harm as a result of these evil policies, I will hold the Catholic Bishops' Conference personally responsible because of its failure to take a strong stand against our government.

I cannot stress enough how fundamental the right of parents as primary educators is to the well-being of the family. As Mary Ann Glendon put it in her authoritative book on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights A World Made New:

“In the article on education [26]…[the drafting committee for the Declaration] made an important change, influenced directly by recollections of the National Socialist regime’s efforts to turn Germany’s renowned educational system into a mechanism for indoctrinating the young with the government’s program…. [A]fter Beaufort of the Netherlands recalled the ways in which German schools had been used to undermine the role of parents, a third paragraph was added: ‘Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.’”

[*] Pope John Paul II taught that it was an illusion to think that we could build a true culture of human life if we did not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection. However, with the bishops of England and Wales lending its support to legislation that obliges Catholic schools to provide information on contraception and abortion, is it not completely unrealistic to expect that Catholic sexual morality will be taught in these schools?

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Friday, 11 June 2010

99.84% of messages to government oppose Marie Stopes abortion ad

Yesterday in Parliament Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government what representations they have received since 15 May about barring television advertisements for abortion services.

The response of Lord Shutt of Greetland, deputy chief whip in the House of Lords, was:
At 26 May, 603 pieces of electronic correspondence have been received from members of the public about television advertisements for post-conception advice services. Five pieces of correspondence on the same subject have been received from MPs, and none has been received from Members of the House of Lords. Of the total received, 607 representations oppose the showing of television advertisements for post-conception advice services, including abortion services.
Of 608 separate pieces of correspondence 607 people opposed the advertising. The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP (pictured above), the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport  has the power to insist that Ofcom controls advertising in this area. (See the Communications Act s. 321). We call upon him to intervene immediately. [cf. Communications Act 2003, (section 321, subsections 5 & 6)]


I urge visitors who've not done so to take action on this matter.  Abortion ads will trivialise abortion. They are an insult to the hundreds of women hurt by abortion every day. Such ads are offensive and will mislead viewers about the reality of abortion.

Courageous mum refuses to abort her twins

This week I received the news that a recent episode of 'Facing Life Head On', the weekly US pro-lifeTV show, has been nominated for a regional Emmy award. The episode, 'Little Miracles', tells the story of Missy Davert, a woman only two feet, eleven inches tall, who successfully gave birth to twins. Missy also has a condition called osteogenesis imperfecta, brittle bone disease.

The episode is very moving. While pregnant Missy knew that as her children grew there was a high possibility that they would put her life at risk by interferring with her heart or lungs. Missy met with several doctors who advised her to abort at least one of her children. This was never an option that she was prepared to consider and she was greatly relieved when she met Dr Daniel Wechter, a specialist in crisis pregnancies, who committed to helping her through her pregancy.

Reflecting on her pregnancy Missy says:
God gave us both of these beuatiful children. I look at them today and think: which one of them wouldn't have been here if we'd made that decision?
Her reflection evokes the beautiful testimony of Andrea Bocelli, the famous classical singer, whose mother was advised to have an abortion.

Missy and her husband Ken will be forever grateful to the incredible care they received from Dr Wechter during the course of their pregnancy. Dr Wechter is a fantastic example to doctors and other medical professionals, who are coming under increasing pressure to practice their profession according to the prevailing anti-life principles of our time.

Missy and Ken's children, Austin and Michaela, are now eleven years old. They share their mother's similar courageous embrace of life. Michaela and Austin are both honour-roll students and Austin uses his spare time to fly aeroplanes!

Do take time to watch this remarkable story.

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Thursday, 10 June 2010

Nicaragua resolutely withstands Human Rights Council pressure to legalise abortion

The UN Human Rights Council yesterday turned its fire on Nicaragua - piling on the pressure to legalize the killing of the unborn in a wide range circumstances. Pat Buckley, leading SPUC's lobby at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, reports:
"No less than eleven countries were pressurising Nicaragua to repeal its pro-life legislation: the Netherlands, Norway, the Czech Republic, Mexico, the UK, Belgium, France, Finland, Sweden and Slovenia.

"This was done during the Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) procedure, a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years."
Pat tells me that the recommendations varied but typical of them was Finland's recommendation that Nicaragua should: “revise legislation regarding the sexual and reproductive rights of women, including the abolition of the total ban on abortion, and ensure their access to services necessary for their enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health” and Mexico's that Nicaragua should “follow through on recommendations of different treaty bodies regarding the possibility of considering exceptions to the general prohibition of abortion, especially in cases of therapeutic abortion and pregnancies resulting from rape and incest”.

I don't know if any of the Mexican delegation were Catholics. If so, I hope they will shortly receive advice from the Archbishop of Guadalajara, Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez who says that those who promote and approve laws in favor of abortion are outside the Catholic Church and should not receive Communion. The Mexican action brings shame on a nation where, the evidence suggests, the people and the Catholic Church leadership are strongly pro-life.

Pat Buckley reminds us:
"It's far from the first time that a United Nations body has targeted Nicaragua's pro-life legislation. But, as on previous occasions, Nicaragua fought back resolutely. Carlos Robelo, Nicaragua's representative, strongly rejected the recommendations and told the Human Rights Council council that that Nicaragua would not change back its abortion laws to allow 'therapeutic' abortion.
Carlos Robelo, on behalf of Nicaragua, was in fact representing humanity's consensus on the right to life. Those who oppose abortion and other anti-life practices are seeking to uphold solemn international human rights agreements. They are seeking to uphold, for example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which celebrated last December its 60th anniversary on which I spoke in Spain last year at the 4th pro-life world congress in Saragossa.



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Muslims worldwide will defend the inviolable right to life of the Prince of Wales

In a speech at Oxford University yesterday, the Prince of Wales said:
"It is surely time to ask if we can come to a view that balances the traditional attitude to the sacred nature of life on the one hand with, on the other, those teachings within each of the sacred traditions that urge humankind to keep within the limits of Nature’s benevolence and bounty."
Elsewhere in his speech, entitled "Islam and the Environment", the Prince spoke about:
"this poor planet of ours, which already struggles to sustain 6.8 billion people, will somehow have to support over 9 billion people within fifty years. In the Arab world, sixty per cent of the population is now under the age of thirty. That will mean, in some way or other, 100 million new jobs will have to be created in that region alone over the next ten to fifteen years."
Firstly, it's disappointing that the Prince of Wales demonstrates his ignorance of "nature's benevolence and bounty" to which his speech makes reference.  Dr Nicholas Eberstadt, for example, in his paper "Too many people?" points to the mass of evidence that rapid population growth has actually helped increase the availability of resources. Dr Eberstadt is a leading demographer, who holds the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute.

Secondly, the Prince of Wales refers to "the traditional way of life within Islam" and its "important principle we must keep in mind is that there are limits to the abundance of Nature".

With great respect, I would inform the prince, based on SPUC's experience of lobbying and working with Muslim nations for nearly two decades at the United Nations, that traditional Muslims will unequivocally defend and uphold the sacred nature of the lives of the Royal Family - and their right to life from conception till natural death.  There's nothing in traditional Islam which suggests that the sacredness of the lives of the Prince of Wales and the Royal Family, including their inviolable right to life, should be balanced against other considerations: such as the growing population of the world and poverty in much of the world including in Britain.

Thirdly, it would help enormously if the Prince of Wales could spend some time reflecting on the real face of population control: the nature and consequences of China's coercive abortion/birth control policy.  It's a policy funded by regular donations from over 180 countries worldwide, including over 40 million US dollars from the UK in 2007 and it's a population control policy in which the United Nations' participation is very well-documented. On the same day as the Prince of Wales's speech in Oxford, Lord David Alton was speaking in a House of Lords debate on the European Union and China.  He said:
“China also has the highest female suicide rate of any country in the world. It is the only nation in which more women than men kill themselves. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 500 women a day end their lives in China. This extraordinary suicide rate may well be related to the campaign of forced sterilisation and compulsory abortion. I was particularly grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Verma, who is on the Front Bench today, for the reply that she gave me yesterday to a Written Question, where she said that last year alone £770,000 had been provided by DfID to Marie Stopes International, and that this will be reviewed as part of the process of looking at overseas funding. I would point out to your Lordships that MSI might claim to disapprove of compulsion but recently gave a red-carpet welcome in its London headquarters to Ms Lin Bin, Minister of China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission, which is responsible for the one-child policy. I also hope that the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, will be able to confirm that the Government will follow the previous Government in upholding the case of Chen Guang Chen, the blind human rights activist who in the Xiandong province exposed the compulsory abortion and sterilisation of more than 130,000 women and is now into his fourth year in prison for having done so.”
It's the population controllers, not those who uphold the sacredness of human life, who are failing to "keep within the limits of nature's benevolence".

You can also read a synopsis of Dr Eberstadt's paper here and the paper itself at the link above.




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Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Baby Jesus 'scan' features in churches' Christmas campaign



Ruth Gledhill, religion correspondent of The Times, has a good story today headlined "'Scan' of baby Jesus plunges Churches into abortion debate."

She writes: "Protestant Churches are joining forces in an advertising campaign that shows a scan of "baby Jesus in the Virgin Mary's womb", complete with halo.

"The poster campaign ... reads: 'He's on His way. Christmas starts with Christ.'"

Ruth Gledhill is kind enough to quote me in her story saying: "This advertisement sends a powerful message to everyone in Britain where 570 babies are killed every day in the womb, 365 days a year, under the Abortion Act. Whenever we kill an unborn child in an abortion, we are killing Jesus".

Her story is worth reading in the original if only to witness the mental confusion of Terry Sanderson, of the National Secular Society, as he tries to criticize the image.

I just hope and pray that this poster campaign has the effect of saving many lives. Let's promote it in every way we can.

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Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Belgium's non voluntary euthanasia deaths almost equal voluntary euthanasia deaths

Wesley J. Smith (pictured) reports in Secondhand Smoke that, according to a new study, nearly as many Belgian euthanasia killings are non voluntary as of those that are voluntary.

In September 2002, Belgium became the second country in the world after the Netherlands to legalise euthanasia since the fall of Nazi Germany. Last year, Secondhand Smoke reported that euthanasia deaths were going up in Belgium, accounting for about 2% of all deaths in Flanders.

Wesley J. Smith, a Senior Fellow in Human Rights and Bioethics at the Discovery Institute Washington DC, explains:
" ... Euthanasia consciousness rests on two intellectual pillars–that killing is an acceptable answer to human suffering, and radical individualism in which we all own our bodies and have the absolute right to do what we wish with it, including make it dead. But interestingly, the latter idea–often reduced to that most effective of all soundbites, “choice”–turns out to be far less robust than the acceptance of active killing as a proper method of ending suffering. In other words, once a society accepts killing as the answer to suffering, the request element becomes increasingly less important as doctors assume they are doing what is best for the patient by extinguishing their lives.

"This has been the case in the Netherlands for for decades. Amazingly, the phenomenon of “terminations without request or consent” is even worse in Flanders, Belgium. In the present survey of nurses, not only were nearly as many patients euthanized without no request–120 in this survey–as those who asked to die–128 in this survey–but often doctors have nurses do the dirty work–and they aren’t supposed to engage in euthanasia at all ... "
The Canadian Medical Association Journal (May 17) makes grim reading. In the article entitled The role of nurses in physician assisted deaths in Belgium we learn:
"By administering the life-ending drugs in some of the cases of euthanasia, and in almost half of the cases without an explicit request from the patient, the nurses in our study operated beyond the legal margins of their profession".
Elsewhere the article states:
" ... Finally, although about half of the nurses’ reports indicated that there was no explicit request from the patient, it should be stated that the physicians and nurses probably acted according to the patient’s wishes ... "
"Not if they weren't asked!" Wesley J. Smith says - and he comments:
"This goes beyond terminal non judgmentalism to actively justifying illegal acts, and proves that once the euthanasia monster is let out of its cage, the “guidelines” and “safeguards” become less protective than wet tissue paper, not only in the country where euthanasia occurs, but among professional studies of the practices."
I strongly recommend Secondhand Smoke for all serious students of legalized euthanasia and its consequences.

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Sunday, 6 June 2010

St Joseph and Mary, the primary educators of Jesus, are the models for parents today

Last Sunday, Josephine, my wife, and I, were in Walsingham for the annual pilgrimage of the National Association of Catholic Families - where 120 children and 60 parents and grandparents braved bank holiday weekend thunder and showers camping beside the famous shrine. It was a wonderful event.

I was invited during the weekend to speak about St. Joseph. This is what I said:
I am not a biblical scholar nor a theologian. I am a lay Catholic who was taught as a child that I should be obedient to my parents because Jesus, the Son of God, was obedient to Joseph and to Mary, His parents.

"Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favour." (Luke, Chapter 2, Verses 51 - 52)

What an interesting conjunction of ideas there is in those two sentences. The evangelist appears to suggest that, partly as a consequence of His obedience to Joseph and Mary, Jesus grew in wisdom and in divine and human favour. Joseph and Mary are depicted as the Son of God's primary educators on earth. The Divine mandate of all parents thoughout history can be seen in the example of the Holy Family.

The more I've reflected on the theme of the talk I was invited to give today, the more I've been impressed by the insight of the NACF in choosing St Joseph as a topic for their family pilgrimage to Walsingham in 2010. St Joseph is a thoroughly relevant, thoroughly modern, saint for the crisis families face today in Britain.

On the one hand, of course, St. Joseph is the great, still, figure of tradition in religious history. He embodies the biblical history of our salvation. Old Testament prophecies about Salvation come to fulfilment through Joseph's being the husband of Mary who gives birth to Jesus. According to St Matthew, the evangelist, St Joseph is a final link in the genealogy of Salvation going back to Abraham.

On the other hand, St Joseph is far from being a still, even passive, figure in our salvation history. When you look at the way he acts in truly massive crises, St Joseph is a radical and instinctive man whose first thought is to act strongly, swiftly, decisively, independent-mindedly, selflessly and with true compassion for those who are closest to him. For example when Mary was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit, St Joseph makes up his mind to act decisively to protect her from disgrace and possible death. But St. Joseph's independent-minded judgement of human affairs is always open to the Holy Spirit - Who guides him to take Mary home as his wife and Who later guides him in another massive family crisis as he escapes with Jesus and Mary from King Herod's murderous plans.

But, above all, the significance and relevance of St Joseph for the National Association of Catholic Families this weekend in May, 2010, can be seen in the Gospel passage with which I began:

"Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favour." (Luke, Chapter 2, Verses 51 - 52)

What we see here is St Joseph's spousal relationship with Mary. We witness in that spousal relationship the timeless, eternal icon of a married couple who are the primary educators of their child: a married couple who, in Joseph's and Mary's case, are responsible for the education and formation of Jesus, the Son of God Who, under their care, increases in wisdom, years, and in divine and human favour.

Doesn't this short passage say everything the world needs to know about the irreplaceable, inalienable, right and duty of parents to be the primary educators of their children? Doesn't the teaching of Familiaris Consortio, one of the founding documents of the National Association of Catholic Families, that the right and duty of parents in the education and formation of their children is "irreplaceable and inalienable", find its eternal authoritative source in these two simple verses?

If Jesus himself depended on the formation of his parents, his primary educators, to reach full maturity and to increase in wisdom, how much more is the case for the rest of humanity?

The first and the primary focus of my reflection today is St. Joseph's impact on the human person of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Through St. Joseph's spousal relationship with Mary, taking Mary as his wife, they become the primary educators of Jesus Christ. They take command of His education and formation - and this is all the more underlined after the crisis of losing Jesus in Jerusalem - and Jesus increases in wisdom and in Divine and human favour. In the same way, we parents today must take command of the education and formation of our children so that they too can increase in wisdom and in divine and human favour.

Parents do not only find the authoritative source of their right and duty of to be the primary educators of their children in the life of Jesus Christ. We also find an authoritative source in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I would like to quote from an important talk, given in Qatar, by the distinguished US attorney and bioethicist, William L. Saunders Jnr, entitled "Human Rights, the Family and the Education of Children".

Mr Saunders writes: "Article 16 [of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights] declares: 'The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.' Thus, article 16 recognizes the common sense fact, sometimes overlooked by governments and international organizations, that the family exists prior to the state, is the foundation of the state, and that the state is obligated to protect it."

Mr Saunders continues: "Article 16 goes further. It recognizes the right of a man and woman to marry and found a family. In other words, it recognizes that the family is founded ... upon marriage. We can all be thankful the Declaration recognized these fundamental truths."

Listen carefully to William Saunders's explanation of how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights upholds parents as the primary educators of their children. He says: "Echoing the approach of article 16 [of the Declaration], article 26(3) recognizes that parents are the primary educators of their children. 'Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children' [the article states]. As article 16 recognized the priority to the state of the family founded upon marriage, article 26 recognizes the priority of the wishes of parents regarding the education of their own children over any designs of the state. Remember, per article 16, the State is obligated to protect the family. If the State presumes to usurp the rights of parents to choose the education of their own children, it damages the family, violates its own obligations, and undermines the foundation of a just society and State."

William Saunders underlines the historical significance of the Universal Declaration's insistence on parents as the primary educators of their children by citing Mary Ann Glendon, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, former US ambassador to the Holy See, and President of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences. In her authoritative book on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights A World Made New Mary Ann Glendon writes:

"In the article on education [26]...[the drafting committee for the Declaration] made an important change, influenced directly by recollections of the National Socialist regime's efforts to turn Germany's renowned educational system into a mechanism for indoctrinating the young with the government's program.... [A]fter Beaufort of the Netherlands recalled the ways in which German schools had been used to undermine the role of parents, a third paragraph was added: 'Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children'".

"In other words" William Saunders comments "one of the most important lessons drawn by the framers of the Declaration from the experience of the Second World War was that parental choice in education is a fundamental plank of international peace and security".

The second focus of my reflection is St. Joseph's role in the Holy Family's flight into Egypt, escaping from King Herod's murderous intentions towards Jesus. As Pope John Paul II explains in his Letter to Families (21), another foundational document for the National Association of Catholic Families: "Matthew, for his part, tells of the plot of Herod against Jesus. Informed by the Magi who came from the East to see the new king who was to be born (cf. Mt 2:2), Herod senses a threat to his power, and after their departure he orders the death of all male children aged two years or under in Bethlehem and the surrounding towns. Jesus escapes from the hands of Herod thanks to a special divine intervention and the fatherly care of Joseph, who takes him with his mother into Egypt, where they remain until Herod's death."

Let me turn to St. Matthew's account in the second chapter of his Gospel: "After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, suddently some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east asking, 'Where is the infant king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage. When King Herod heard this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem ... Then Herod summoned the wise men to see him privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared and sent them on to Bethlehem with the words, 'Go and find out all about the child, and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage ... But they were given a warning in a dream not to go back to Herod, and returned to their own country by a different way. After they had left, suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.' So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead ... After Herod's death, suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 'Get up, take the child and his mother with you and go back to the leand of Israel, for those who wanted to kill the child are dead.' So Joseph got up and, taking child and his mother with him, went back to the land of Israel. But when he learnt that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as ruler of Judaea he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the region of Galilee. There he settled in a town called Nazareth ... "

Just think about the various elements in Joseph's "fatherly care" of Jesus and Mary, the Holy Family. Firstly, he acts immediately and with a real sense of urgency. "So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead ... ". This sentence tells us that Joseph is attentive to the signs of the times and open to the Holy Spirit - leaving nothing to chance as he senses his enemy closing in: "he left that night for Egypt". Secondly, there are signs again of St Joseph's independent-mindedness as he works out for himself what's best to do: "But when he learnt that Archelaus hd succeeded his father Herod as ruler of Judaea he was afraid to go there ... ". Constantly studious of the signs of the times, he decides not to go to Judaea. The goodness and conscientiousness of this great man once again, just like the crisis over Mary's mysterious pregnancy, make him open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and we learn "being warned in a dream he withdrew to the region of Galilee".

Joseph is the model for Catholic fathers - and Catholic mothers - today. In fact he's the model for all parents, whatever their religion, whose children's welfare are threatened by governments, like the British government, which have policies to provide children under the age of 16 with access to abortion, without their parents' knowledge or consent. This is happening in schools in England and Wales, including in Catholic schools. Strangely, the Catholic Education Service, on behalf of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, welcomes Connexions, an organization which promotes such access to abortion to under-age children, into Catholic schools. Strangely, too, the Catholic Education Service has appointed as its deputy director Greg Pope who, as a Member of Parliament, signed parliamentary motions praising the Family Planning Association and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the biggest abortion-promoting agency in the world, and who voted against parents being informed about their under-age child having an abortion.

As parents we must, like St Joseph, take command of the education and formation of our children. We must be prepared to take radical, urgent action, to protect them from government authorities and even from Catholic authorities who will co-operate with the killing of our unborn grandchildren - just as St. Joseph used his wits and his heavenly-inspired wisdom to escape the murderous intentions of King Herod.

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